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043 - Gordon Bruin

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

“Life is not about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Gordon Bruin joins us to talk about mindfulness and it’s benefit in addiction recovery and trauma therapy. He talks about getting out of the limbic system, being intentional in your thinking, and some of the tools he has used over the years such as VIA character surveys, EMDR therapy, and Muay Thai. He delivers a recommended reading list as an extra bonus! Enjoy.

The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates ( They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.

Transcript (no grammar): life is not about finding yourself life is about creating yourself gordon bruin joins us to talk about mindfulness and its benefit in addiction recovery and trauma therapy he talks about getting out of the limbic system being intentional in your thinking and some of the tools he has used over the years such as via character surveys emdr therapy and muay thai he delivers a recommended reading list as an extra bonus enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley mangum i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collection simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry leading reporting improve your practices cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today kurt and i have the privilege of meeting and talking with gordon bruin he is a clinical mental health counselor he is licensed in florida and utah uh he specializes in mindfulness training and really focusing on the the strengths um and working with his clients based on their strengths and overcoming addition excuse me overcoming addiction issues anxiety management depression and trauma recovery gordon has just recently retired um as the clinical director out at suncoast in florida suncoast behavioral health he's previously been the clinical director at unique foundations in lehigh utah he's been a program service manager at the utah county department of substance abuse in utah and then also a clinical director at sitka alaska in prevention and treatment and now is very happy to just kind of part-time work in his private practice so gordon thanks so much for being with us today and being willing to share your story i'm glad to be here thanks for having me guys it's exciting and i know you've been in the industry a long time maybe just catch everybody up on on kind of how you ended up in mental health treatment and substance abuse so um picking up kind of where i left off loved sports knew that wasn't going to be the be all and end-all like most kids growing up their dream and so it was quite a journey for me to end up in the field of mental health that it literally took me 14 years and seven seven different universities before i finally graduated with my master's in clinical psychology with a specialization in addiction studies number reason start stop i'm gonna i'm gonna go into computer science i'm gonna do this that it is a process of discovery for me and i finally just you know i love working with people and i'm really um i don't really have a recovery story myself i just have i have family members cousins and stuff who struggled with some pretty severe addictions and i loved them to death and i just saw them suffering and i'm just was interested about how the brain worked and why people couldn't just stop doing things so my very things that were hurting this my very first job as i was going to graduate school was at a methadone clinic out in the san francisco bay area and i remember my first client you know i sat down with him and i i you know i think i'm gonna ride in there with my white horse and just save all these people and i'm just going dude what what are you doing why are why are you putting needles in your arm and this is just crazy you see us destroying your life he goes yeah man you're right you're right uh i know okay so let's set some goals you know so we set some goals and i i thought man that's just an amazing amazing session i'm i'm i'm where i need to be well 15 minutes late you know i'm committed i'm never going to do this again right and 15 minutes later he's out in the parking lot with a needle in his arm and then and it's just like man i'm just going what is driving this so it just it just i just took a deep dive into spending the rest of my career really studying the brain particularly the the and when i came to argosy a number of years ago i think it was talking about the two-part brain a lot about the limbic system the survival system fascinating part of the brain where the three prime directives are survival i'm going to keep you alive it's a type of brain that's largely functioning in a line or a tiger and i do that by avoiding things that are painful that's physical pain or emotional pain i'll do whatever i can to get you away from those things and i do that by searching for something that's pleasurable and also the pleasure centers are located in the limit part of the brain and it's just and then it started all to make sense to me that really we have two parts of our brain and this limbic system the survival system is driving kind of subconsciously about 90 percent of our behavior and then you add trauma on top of that as we go through our lives and we experience really really difficult things it started to make sense to me because and then i started to have a deeper love and compassion for those who are struggling with addiction because they're not bad people they are simply trying to take care of themselves and they whatever will do it drugs alcohol elicits sexual activities any of those things that can help relieve that anxiety and pain that survival system is driving them for like a lion or a tiger is searching for food it's that powerful and so that kind of led me to you know the study of mindfulness well how do we manage this part of our brain if it's so dang powerful and just you know positive affirmations and this that and the other it just like that limbic system just totally you know balls it over so i have a a friend out there in utah hugh vale is his name he runs he runs a place called mustang medicine where he actually adopts wild mustangs and then he gentles them and so i've been in the pen with him i've watched that happening and it's like what an amazing metaphor for what we're trying to do to ourselves and so we use the horse as a representation because they're all olympic they're survival they don't trust anyone and especially a horse that's never seen a human being they look at us as predators but the way we deal with that horse in a pen you know the way we respond to every little flinch every micro tell that that horse does and if we do it in the appropriate way you can very quickly get up to that horse and be petting it sitting on it lying on it and it's like it's in that we have to do the same things with ourselves but learn a system a language that can do that and one of the things that i'm i'm just absolutely convinced of is that we are not taught how to think in a positive correct manner we're not we're not taught that anywhere we're not taught what mindfulness is in schools in my opinion that should be the most critical class in starting in kindergarten what is mindfulness class we're going to spend 10 minutes and we're going to box breathe you know if you study some of the united states special forces guys mark devine tom shea those guys practice simple breathing exercises on a consistent basis to learn how to keep themselves calm rather than than being you know over emotional and and there's another wonderful book i'm an avid reader i love a book called relentless it's by tim grover who is the was the personal trainer of michael jordan and kobe bryant and talks about how emotions have a tendency to make us weak if we you know the more your emotions get involved in things man the less productive you are and so to to me it's really come down to these six words and i encourage all my clients to memorize these six words and it simply is this life is a matter of attention life is a matter of attention and if we look at the true meaning of mindfulness from my perspective and i think we've we've so overused that words in the last number of years that when you hear the word mindfulness it means something different to almost everybody but to me this is mindfulness it's practicing and strengthening one's ability to keep the mind focused on a worthwhile predetermined goal and a number of wonderful wonderful books out there right now essentialism by great mcewan um indistractable by near eol atomic habits by james clear all fantastic books that can help help with these type of things but mindfulness in in my mind is strengthening a person's mental capacity to stay what the navy seals refer to as front sight focused it's the most difficult thing to do and and this is where i go into kind of the strength stuff i don't know if you've heard of the via strength survey via character strengths but it's it you can you can go online and take a free survey and how this all came about um martin seligman who is the father of positive psychology he wrote a book called learned optimism and he um he was commissioned um to lead a group of 55 scientists to go scour the world in different cultures to find out what is positive and good in the cultures so they go to a tribe in africa they'd go to the alaskan natives you know up way high in in in alaska in europe anyway it took it was a three-year study and the results of that study came up with what's called the the via strength character 24 character strengths and what they did is that they identified 24 or what was it six virtues and 24 character strengths that are universal among all cultures that when practiced increase a person's ability to thrive in life without ever inhibiting another person's growth and so you if you go on and take this free survey it's been researched it's validated it will give you a free printout of your your 24 character strengths in order and then the research clearly indicates that if you are are spending your time on those things that you're really good at you have a greater tendency to thrive in life rather than simply survive and it kind of goes back there's a i remember henry david thoreau says the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation right so most people are just simply if you're not proactively or if we are not proactively what we want to become and how to become something or someone else is doing that for us and we're just responding to the environment around us so mindfulness for me is that we we own our power to choose and we take a step back and figure out what it is that we want to become and then that starts with the vision if you don't have skype there's another great book out start with the y simon cynic if you don't know why you're doing what you're doing then it doesn't it doesn't really matter what you're doing right it's like it's like the classic uh um alice in wonderland story with the cheshire cat right you're familiar with that well which road should i take alice says and the cheshire cat says well it all depends on where you want to go she says well i don't really care and he said well it doesn't matter in in in most of us are familiar with that statement but so much of life as i am now older and able to reflect it just seems like wow so so much of it is that we we're kind of in survival mode and we've got to figure out a way to navigate through life but we're doing things that we feel we have to do but we don't really want to do and i just think there's a way to change that and and i i really encourage people to to look at their strengths start using that as a filter so see things in a strong way my son and i have a 20 28 year old son who um he has his own story of of healing and recovery from anorexia just just love him to death but he's he's taken that and used that energy and become a bodybuilder and he he's really like a world-class bodybuilder and so we're gonna part of what i'm going to do in retirement is work with him on a site that's called but we learning to to teach people um kind of the stuff we're talking about to see things in their strengths rather than focusing on their weaknesses because we and as we do more research well i mean the research that we know of is is that the bulk of our thoughts by nature tend to be negative we tend to focus on those things that might harm us and remember and trauma another one of my one of the books that was life-changing for me was dr bessel vanderkolt's book the body keeps the score i don't know if you guys have heard about that but that's a new york times bestseller and uh when i worked at the unique foundation we were able to invite him and to come out and he spent a couple of days with us so i gotta you know get to know him a little bit and pick his brain a little bit more and i i just think that's a classic book i know he he said that's 40 years of his life and it took him 10 years to to write that and and it's such a well-written book and it just really outlines what i have seen in clients who who have struggled with unresolved trauma that you literally become stuck and frozen and so in the healing part one of one of the things that i found that was the most fascinating to me was introducing martial arts a form of kickboxing muay thai to adult female survivors specifically for for adult female survivors because women are never taught really to f fight back and so they're afraid of their strength or they don't want to do it but as i i did it with over probably 1500 um survivors at the retreat and and it this there's one statement in in uh vanderkolt's book the body keeps a score that just resonated me he said this he says imprints of the past can be transformed by having physical experiences that directly contradict the helplessness the rage and collapse that are a part of trauma thereby regaining self-mastery and if we could create a safe environment to where these ladies would actually have the courage to stand up put boxing gloves on and then we lead him through the the punching and the kicking oh my goodness i saw some of the most amazing transformations of getting the body involved and so they many of them said i've been in therapy for years and and i've never experienced any this was the icing on the cake this is the one thing i needed to get my body because as dr van der gold says we become stuck and frozen sometimes and we just replay those tapes over and over and over again and so you're constantly living in this state so and and and our physical body is the essential part of our life and so we have to take care of it and the body keeps the score and so the body if you're constantly in stress and anxiety then you have those stress hormones adrenaline cortisol epinephrine flowing through your body as if a lion or a tiger is right in front of you but it's not the body begins to break down and so many of the survivors that we had come to our retreats they were not doing well physically they just they weren't healthy at all a million different issues and and some of them um what one one of the individuals that that came she came in a wheelchair and it's like you know she couldn't even walk but she wanted to get up and try muay thai and so she actually stood up and did it and punched and kicked and stuff like that and when she left the retreat she was walking she was she got up on her own and walked and that was such an interesting story that um we were asked to go on the doctor's show out in in la and we did a little segment there with her and and where she said yeah i and she had like i can't remember she said she had three or four active diseases in her body and two of them were in complete remission as as she continued to move forward another another thing with trauma recovery that i that i've had um experience with is the emdr therapy that's amazing i just i just i've just seen miraculous things in about 85 of the clients that i've done it with i've seen things that i think that would be like miraculous i mean the speed at which change occurs contradicts the rational notion of time because we've been taught for so long that yeah you're going to need to be in therapy for a number of years for this thing and i you know it's very costly and it's and i just think we can do a better job right yeah gordon no i mean you bring up so many i mean i'm sitting here on the edge of my seat going wait i gotta i gotta ask him when you when you're on the mat with these women doing martial arts um i've done um carpet work i think's what i don't know if that's an official term but carpet work where you actually you know physically hit or physically re-enact things where you are pow empowered so i'm i'm wondering as you're there doing these martial arts with these women how much processing how much tears and actual processing is happening in that in on that mat it's great question tons and that's why we have to so so we started the retreat on monday monday night we would educate the ladies in what's called this is trauma in the brain this is what's been happening to you kind of the stuff we're talking about explaining about the limbic system and all that many of them for the first time in their life go i've been in therapy for a number of years and no one's ever explained this this way before this makes sense to me and then we say it's part of the recovery here's the things that we're introducing to you and on wednesday we're going to introduce you if you choose always has to be by choice never it's just if you choose to participate in this we do what's called muay thai this is what it's about so gave that quote imprints of the past can be transformed and and uh explain to them and probably eight where at the beginning of their retreat you'd probably have five percent of them say yeah i'll go try martial arts but on on that wednesday probably 80 percent of the survivors came and tried it and and learning to stand with them that's why if you're not trauma sensitive you can create some problems doing it it's kind of like i was talking to besser vanderkolkin and he says you're actually doing that at the retreat i said yeah you talked about that in your book i said we're we're actually we're actually doing it it says well i talked to my wife you know and she does some stuff back there too and and she says i would never do that and then he looked at me and and smile said but i would and i go oh well we just been doing it i've done it with well over a thousand ladies now and it's just been remarkable i've never had one i've had some experiences where it wasn't the thing for them but not a real negative experience so one of the first times doing it i'll tell you what happened to your point and go i have no idea you know i've just been practicing martial arts probably for two years myself and then i read it in a book i go let's introduce this at the retreat and so a stand in four one one one one gal um and i said this is what we do so i hold mitts and then she would just show them how to punch do the left jabs and then crosses and uppercuts and hooks and just show them all that and it and it makes a popping sound as you're as you're throwing a punch it you know it makes a sound so she started in pretty strong and i said i'll meet you wherever you're at you're in charge but it's not about being angry it's about managing and directing your energy on point on focus to take your power back but if i see anyone totally going out of control so no no no then you can become addicted to anger that's not that's not what we're doing here we're helping you reclaim your power and so she started and she pop pop pop pop after about eight hits she just goes i'm having a panic attack and she stood up and i'm going oh boy you know not sure what to do myself and i said okay just breathe just breathe and then they did some what's called yes sets to get someone grounded say you're here in utah you're at a retreat feel your feet on the ground notice there's a lot of people around you who love and support you and and she was able to do that and i go is this just too hard for you do we need to stop and she says yeah this is just too hard and i go okay let's stop and then she says no i don't want to and so there we were stuck i'm standing there she's standing there i have no idea what to do and and talk about being vulnerable and allowing yourself to be there but caring for this person and the process you're engaged in and then she said something that made all the difference in the world she says it's the sound the sound triggers me and then she told about some of what she went through and sound was associated with it and then i had a thought and i said okay hey how about we just do this you throw your punch super super super slow but let your arm do what it wanted to do left and right and when you hit my mitt you just touch it there's no sound and she smiled and says i can do that and so she did that letting her body go through the motions of taking her power back unfreezing those cells and then after about eight or nine times she kind of crouched down and she looked at me i'll never forget that look and she says i want to hit a little bit harder now and i says i'll meet you wherever you're at and then she was able to manage and direct her energy and just that was like 45 minutes of rebirth and when and when she was done with that she says this is the very thing that i that i've been missing and many of the participants that we did that with when they went home they continued on with this as a regular part of their life we also also introduced yoga and for many yoga was the first time they flooded with feelings and emotions because they were able to feel their bodies in different ways and acknowledge the stress and that that it's always been tight in my shoulder or my chest or wherever and yoga has a way of releasing some of that and helping helping them become more in their bodies not dissociated so much because many survivors are trauma dissociate means they which simply means i'm not comfortable being here in my body it's not safe so they go anywhere else in their mind but that's not a good way to live because you have to drag your body around with you wherever you go well gordon as i i have this just this this question i've been asking myself for quite some time as i listen to all of these different approaches you know the approach of emdr the and as i'm listening to you i'm hearing a little bit of prolonged exposure going on there there's a little bit of of the movement right the somatic work is happening and and when someone is moving emdr is happening too while they're you know while they're processing and that's where emdr came from is someone taking you know taking a walk shapiro taking a walk in and going wait something's happening here i'm processing and so what what my question is is do you see all of these different approaches as more of tools to help manage what's going on in the brain and the way the brain stores that trauma and the way that the body manages and stores that information they're all just tools around helping somebody get it unstuck right i mean that's kind of how i see it but you tell me your approach and your thoughts no i i think you're spot on with that and that's that's in order i i love a new buzzword that's going around in the business world there's a business member the name of talib and he uses the term anti-fragility becoming anti-fragile i love that concept so if you think of the word fragile it's broken cracked weak can't deal with thing resilient is that we'll keep being resilient i'll bounce back to where i was now anti-fragile think of that he uses a lot of different examples of businesses that completely crumble and then from that tragedy they explode into something far far greater so this this term anti-fragility is i just love the concept and focusing on strength it's like no matter if you have this mindset no matter what happens to me i'm going to come back stronger because of it i'm not just going to be resilient it's not about just surviving in life too many people are just surviving and going from check to check or from anxiety and depression and i just i just think we can do a better job of learning to thrive a little bit more and to be more fully engaged now no question that i use this statement we don't have to plant wheat we don't have to plant wheat weeds just grow so if we are trying to develop a beautiful mind and trying to to practice mindfulness on a consistent basis and like create this beautiful garden you have to tend to those things in in a regular basis in a garden and we will just pop up that means negative things are going to pop up negative thoughts are going to pop up that's not the issue but but there was a concept paper it's from the founder of the via website his name is neil mayerson and in that concept paper there was a paragraph that i think he just nailed it to me sometimes at least this has been my experience in life i'll read a whole book and i'll find one or two paragraphs that's like that's it and i could just almost throw away the whole book other than those two paragraphs they're so powerful this is one of them for me with that whole concept paper as it relates to mindfulness let me just review that with you if i could it says it is now time to be determined about nurturing widespread positive psychological mindedness in particular our capacities for virtuousness as it has been noted that our brains are wired to pay greater attention to negative events than positive ones and then it gives the research behind that so it may also be that the impulse driving our character strengths response is considerably weaker than our survival response i absolutely believe that's true this means that we should expect that efforts to strengthen this response will need to be especially substantive and sustained we need to appropriate much greater efforts than we have to date so when we so when we talk about mindfulness usually you'll hear things like oh i practice mindfulness for five minutes this morning or 10 minutes this morning or 15 minutes this morning my question is well then what are you doing for the rest 23 hours of the day you see what we're dealing with and even those short periods of time of practicing that mindfulness increases a person's mental health in a significant way but imagine if we were to to develop a system a thinking pattern based on your own worthwhile predetermined vision and goals in life of every hour you're checking in with yourself every hour let's stop and box breathe for two minutes every hour every 15 minutes and refocus on what what why am i doing what i'm doing everything goes back to this why i'm doing this because i'm striving to be this i want to make a difference in the world in a positive way that's why i'm doing this or that or or whatever in a family member's life or something like that so but when mayerson says i think we just we need to up the ante i think it's time for us to do that because we live in a world that that is is um after our attention everything on social media whether it's tick tock instagram whatever it's just like it's interesting with tech talk i think they they the the research is that people generally can keep a person's attention for eight seconds and so they so that that's why tick tock is so powerful because people get bored that quickly so that they're just quick little videos and you go from one thing to the next to the next to the next because it's it's like drug on the brain but but is that not just draining our energy if we're spending all our time doing that what what is your worthwhile predetermined vision and goals for life that we it's kind of like a statement george bernard shaw the playwright he says life is not about finding oneself life is about creating oneself or i just love michelangelo when he says every block of stone has a statue inside of it and it's up to the sculptor to find it life life we have to make things happen in our life it's not just going to come to us and there's so many people sitting around well why aren't i do where's my blessings where's this that and the others like we have got to create it and we we create it by our focus and the more we can stay focused on something on our vision first of all we have to create the vision of what it is we want and figure that out and sometimes that's a process like i told you my experience trying to figure out what i want to do for a living that was 14 years in seven different universities so i you know and you hear these things never quit never give up nah i quit six times i quit school six times because it wasn't working and it didn't feel right to me and it was the best thing i could have done until something else can so sometimes we just need to quit things rather than this you know the perseverance maybe is overrated if it's keeping us stuck in a place where we don't want to be just be honest with yourself this place stinks i'm going to move on and do something else and it's okay to do that and it took me a couple years to do that because i come from you know the work ethic of my father was like you just go out and work 12 hours a day that's the old school right and never taking a day a sick day in 60 years of work sorry i mean you had a question curtis sorry no we're here to talk to you you're good um i think it speaks to the mindfulness that you naturally had at that time right because now looking back on your career it's an obvious intelligent decision right it got you to where you are alternatively you could have been stuck in some other career where you would have been miserable and never made a change and never made you know a difference for other people or whatever i can imagine that during that 14-year period your family probably wondered what was wrong you know your wife might have wondered what was wrong somewhere along the way like it requires a lot of mindfulness about yourself right some emotional intelligence about knowing when it's not a good fit right i mean that had to have been challenging at the time right oh my gosh so much yeah no my parents might they just kind of looked at me and scratched their head and go okay what are we gonna do with him now and i remember sometimes and then when i went back to school the last time and i and i give my wife credit i have just the most amazing partner she truly has been a blessing in my life i remember i'd be i would be working full-time at the methadone clinic and going to school full-time and i just would go on walks on sundays i just can't do this anymore i just can't do it i can't do it it's too hard and she'd go yeah yeah yeah then monday would come and she'd say get up get your shoes on go you know because because i i knew i knew that finally when i got in my last program at john f kennedy university out in out in the bay area in california i go now this is this is what i want to do this is it i didn't have any questions after that but every time i started school and i was going down a path it just it just felt wrong and i couldn't explain go wait but i'm going to school this is a good thing i'm so confused it just it just the stars didn't align i don't know how to say it so to your point it was like i just have to be true to myself and and come what may i hope my wife still stays with me and encourages me and i hope my parents don't give up on me and and they did because they loved me and they were just they were just so patient but it was up but i was always out doing something so i didn't just stay home you know so i'd go out and work and usually i was working two or three jobs doing whatever i needed to do but it always came back there was this here's the challenging thing inside of me i always had that feeling driving me you need to go finish your education oh wait i've already quit five times you need to go finish your education what you know so i just i just i just kept kept trying something else until it all fit and now i understand why and all those experiences were extremely valuable to me but in the time i just i just couldn't i just couldn't see the forest with the trees it's like oh my gosh life is so confusing i don't understand this but now as i'm i'm sitting here reflecting on my life starting you know retirement so to speak and just doing the stuff i totally love it's like it's kind of making sense to me now but but it takes time and there there is it is it's just there's something to the old you know cocoon story you you know you i'm sure you've heard the same story that the cocoon's struggling on the ground if and you feel compassion for you want to rip it open so he can fly away but the only way for that that butterfly to end up sustaining flight it gains its strength through breaking out of the cocoon and and if and and if you interrupt its journey it it's not it's not going to be what it could be and so i've learned i've learned and gone kicking and screaming but i've learned to appreciate the struggles that i've had in life because it's it's brought me to where i am today and i i couldn't be happier right now i feel like the most blessed man on the planet a lot and somehow we've made it through i've got four kids i love my kids they're all great we're all still talking with each other they all they all still talk to each other and we get together you know i mean some are in utah one's in idaho but one's here in florida two or two are here in florida but i don't know that's a lot it's been it's been an incredible journey for me but but uh my life's good i'm a blessed man well i think that's um that perspective comes from living the exact principles that you're talking about and and as i was listening to your story and and you know these women who you're sharing with them how this how the brain works and how it functions and why they're experiencing lot you know why their body is reacting the way it is based on the trauma that they've experienced there is so much of that you know understanding that takes the shame out of it for them oh this is normal oh this is the way bodies respond to trauma this is this is how this works to where they can look at it and not be so shameful that they want to just run away from it right so it seems like that's a pretty basic piece that people need to know they have to know how their brain and body is working otherwise they they can't let go of the stuff because they think it's they think it's about them right they think that they are bad yep that's exactly right you just absolutely nailed it and and it what it does is that it validates them if someone will just listen to them and this is my story without judging and criticizing and explaining what happened like for example i had a client i've been working working with online we went through the same thing i he told me of his childhood and i go oh my gosh that is absolute abuse what you went through it's trauma and then so i was on a session early with him today and you know he's in his he's in his 50s and he said i said well so how was your last week he said i had a major breakthrough last week after our session and i saw your reaction to my story it was the first time in my life i was able to go to my wife and say you know what i think my father abused me my therapist just he he his reaction i saw his reaction to what i told him and she goes i've been telling you that for years and it's like but there's a defense mechanism where we protect the perpetrator but it was like a major breakthrough from him to your point shelley that it's just like just listen to me and validate me it's true what i went through this is true what i feel and there's something that happens there's a mental shift when that happens it's like i'm not crazy i'm not crazy this is how i should feel i should and then you know a lot of times then i start to feel anger you should feel anger you should be you should be so angry because that is wrong that should never happen to a child that should never happen in this situation that is wrong you should be angry that's that's righteous anger it's good and now what what you do with it you know then and then working you know you don't want to go crazy with it because then you you know it's not that's not good but but acknowledging it but that acknowledgement piece is so powerful the education piece and the acknowledgement piece those two things are transformative they can be and then you know if it's deep deep trauma in that survival part of the brain then somatic work on a consistent basis taking your power back emdr therapy um but but i think i think there's there comes a point that after we've told the story that we don't keep going back over and over and over again with it that that's when we okay we know what we know what happened let's write our letters let's do whatever we need to do to process it you put just shine the spotlight on it that's ugly and and but let's not keep going through the same story over and over again because then you go right back there in your mind and you just re-traumatize yourself it's time to move forward but to to point it's like we've we've not had a system to help people know how to move forward in their minds that's where i think the strengths focus kind of the call to action is that we need to do a much better job of practicing focusing on our strengths rather than our weaknesses i agree a hundred percent and and and then it's like you said right our our time is being asked for in every aspect of our lives right we have more information flowing in front of us in any one moment that has ever happened in the in the history of the world and so how do you decide where you're going to put your attention if you're not very intentional and and deliberate about what that's going to look like um yeah just incredible i'm wondering as you talked about the the via strength survey that you have people take how do you incorporate that into a treatment session with them great great question so for example the individual i was working with today what are your top five strengths so he listed his top five five strengths so how are you gonna work on this core strength what three things are you gonna do before noon today that can that can show your courage and you know or being brave dealing with a difficult situation that you've been avoiding how can you do that in an appropriate way um how can you use humor today that's another strength humor is a powerful way we've got to laugh more we take ourselves so so seriously sometimes and humor is a great way to kind of re-ground and breathe so the well-rounded person has that humor then and then sometimes as the strengths so you we just constantly talk about them so it's it's what so tell me about your strengths tell me what you did with fairness this week tell me what you did with forgiveness this week but we want to improve you know one of one of yours is on the lower echelon of your numbers well let's work on self-regulate regulation this week or what did you do this past week so it's kind of the the filter of questions go through strengths because weaknesses they'll normally come up like i say you don't have to plant wheats they just pop up and so to mindfully go this is what i'm focusing on i also really do encourage all my all my clients to practice breathing exercise consistently like box breathing because that's one way that the prefrontal is managing the deeper part of the brain by your directing and it's like taming the wild horse because we what do you mean you're holding your breath and you go you can so box breathing it's just so if you picture a box you inhale to a count of four you hold to a count of four exhale to a count of four hold to count of four and just like a box and notice what happens in your mind as you're trying to do that how the mind will try to distract you and and you just bring it back to the breath that's that's a form of mindfulness because anything that we do to practice mindfulness is strengthening the prefrontal part of our brain the rational logical cognitive part to manage and i don't like the word control but to manage and and join up with the limbic the deeper regions that are impulsive and stuff like that because we don't want to try to beat ourselves to death that this doesn't work and if you're struggling with an addiction if you go i'm so bad that's so bad i'm not going to do that anymore well you're just pretty much guaranteed you are going to do it because it that's just the way it works so you have to gentle yourself oh of course i'm going to have these triggers for alcohol or this or that or the other that's how my limbic system works there it is it's just doing its job i i'm not mad at it i'm not angry of course i have these triggers now what i choose to do with it you know and and if you have a slip you just you don't beat yourself up too much you hold yourself accountable what can i learn did that work you know with any type of addictive stuff substance it literally is one time is too many and a thousand never enough because it never really works it it it does temporarily but we're not we're not focused that's not the focus of thriving in life it's like what lasts well and i think we take away that the whole idea that making an error or what we think or perceive as an error is exactly how we get where we need to go um it's like edison right how did you figure out how to create the light bulb well i did it you know over 200 times wrong you know he figured out 200 ways that didn't work and and that's how i figured it out and so it's in the journey and the mistakes and the errors and the you know the trials that we learn and we grow and it's it's in there where we enjoy that journey that makes all the difference in the world yeah matt totally agree so trying to just enjoying the journey and and you know holding ourselves accountable but not beating ourselves up too much because we're none of us are perfect or anywhere near it but but we can make we can make significant improvements of thriving more in life as we're working on self-determined predetermined goals that are worthwhile according to our vision that we always have a place to go back to and say ah this is this is this is what i'm this is what i'm about this is what i'm doing yep i got to pick myself up today because this is what i'm about yeah and that we get to choose we get to choose how we do that i love i love all of these these pieces and you know you you came in and gave some foundational pieces that you use but what you're talking about is all-encompassing right we're just so it's about surrounding somebody with all the resource sources that they need to practice being intentional about their lives which is super powerful and super fun and then it changes that you know that painful piece of getting up in the morning to make it exciting so i love i love your work it's you know it's close to my heart and i've been very inspired now i'm gonna go take the the via strength test and see i'm sure i've taken them before but i don't think i've taken this one so i'm gonna go look at that and check it out um gordon i have no doubt that others will also be fairly drawn to you and and your approach in life what's the best way for them to get a hold of you and connect with you and i'm i guess i'm assuming you're taking clients in your part-time retirement yeah yeah you can just you can share my email i know entergold like i said i'm working with my son on developing a new uh a new system and but we'll get that going we're in the just the developmental stages of that and that's that you know and again we purchased a domain where it's it's focused on physical health mental health just all encompassing because he's that's what he's really super great at and i love the mental health capacity if we can join those two and just do what we can to inspire and help other people and put a bunch of resources out there for them to anyway so but feel free to share my email address would love to communicate with with anyone that's interested and anyway it's all good very cool very cool thank you so much gordon um i might have to reach out myself because i love i love what you're talking about okay sounds good thanks so much for being here and sharing with us all right you guys have a great day AllRecently uploaded

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